Vandals defaced tunnels near Idaho’s Anne Frank memorial with anti-Semitic graffiti, including swastikas, police say

As millions of Jewish people across the country celebrate Hanukkah, police say vandals painted anti-Semitic messages and symbols in tunnels near Idaho’s Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial on Friday.

Law enforcement officials are looking for whoever is responsible for the vandalism along the Greenbelt in Boise, the Boise Police Department (BPD) said on Twitter.

“We recognize the significance of this being the last Saturday of Hanukkah and we are reaching out to Jewish leaders in our community to let them know we will not stand for such hateful and abhorrent behavior in our city,” BPD Chief Ryan Lee said on the department’s Twitter page.

The graffiti included anti-Semitic messaging targeting Jews, messages of hate against minority groups and symbols including swastikas, Lee told CNN affiliate KIVI. A swastika is the centerpiece of the Nazi flag and is synonymous with anti-Semitism.

The graffiti was quickly covered up by Boise Parks and Recreation workers, police said.

“The antisemitic messages contained in the graffiti found along the Greenbelt put a literal and figurative stain on our community. This will not be tolerated,” Boise Mayor Lauren McLean said on Facebook.

“Hate speech is reprehensible. It is not who (we) are as a city and is not part of our shared values. I invite all good people of Boise to stand with me, as I stand with our Jewish neighbors, to rebuke this hate.”

Idaho’s Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial is the only Anne Frank memorial in the US, according to the memorial’s website. The educational park features a bronze statue of Anne Frank as well as an amphitheater, quotes wall, garden and classroom.

Ahead of the Hanukkah holiday this year, the Anti-Defamation League launched #ShineALight to raise awareness around anti-Semitism and how communities can respond.

Hate crimes in the US reached a 12-year-high in 2020, with more than 7,700 criminal hate crime incidents reported to the FBI, according to the FBI’s annual hate crime statistics report. There were 683 anti-Jewish attacks last year, according to the FBI data, down from 963 in 2019.

Police are asking anyone with information regarding the vandalism to call 208-377-6790 or CrimeStoppers: at 208-343-COPS (2677), or leave a tip through the “P3 Tips” mobile app.

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